Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway

The BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway works well, but it's not cheap

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Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway
  • Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway
  • Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway
  • Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway

Pros

  • Looks stylish; stable performance; easy to setup; works with PC, Mac and Linux platforms

Cons

  • Feels a little flimsy, doesn't work with prepaid accounts or Telstra mobile phone SIM cards, expensive initial outlay and plans

Bottom Line

The Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway performs well, taking advantage of Next G's superior network coverage and speed. However the expensive initial outlay and ongoing monthly costs are hard to swallow.

Would you buy this?

Aimed at users without access to fixed line cable or ADSL Internet services, Telstra's BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway is a 3G modem/router that provides wireless access to Telstra's Next G network. The BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway works well, but neither it nor Telstra's wireless broadband plans come cheap.

Manufactured by NetComm, the Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway (3G21WB) is a much nicer looking device than the previous model. Gone are the protruding antennas and the flat, box-shaped design. The new Elite Wireless Network Gateway is sleek, slim and sits upright thanks to a small silver stand. This means its ideal for those with limited desk space. The modem feels a little flimsy; the plastic creaks when pressed and the rear cover awkwardly clips in and out of place.

The front of the Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway features 12 blue LEDs. They let you see signal strength, 3G, LAN activity, Internet connection and Wi-Fi status, and power at a glance.

The Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway includes four 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, two USB ports, a SIM card slot and an optional antenna connector for wireless reception. The USB ports allow printers or hard drives to be shared over a network, while the four Ethernet ports can connect directly to a PC or other network-capable device. The USB ports are conveniently located on the side of the device, so there's no need to remove the rear cover.

Setting up the Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway is relatively straightforward. The package comes with a USB key that you plug into your PC or Mac to install the connection client software. The modem router comes pre-programmed with an SSID (wireless network name) and a WPA key (wireless security key). You'll need to use these defaults to set up the network initially, but you can change them using either the software or the Web-based interface. You'll also need to enter your BigPond account details. The device must be paired with a new or existing BigPond broadband account and will not work with prepaid accounts, nor will it accept regular Telstra mobile phone SIM cards (even if they have a data allowance).

We installed the connection software on both a PC and a Mac and were up and running in a matter of minutes. The BigPond Elite is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X operating systems. For wireless use, the Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway only requires the included AC adapter to function. The unit supports the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi standard as well as 802.11b/g.

The Telstra BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway can deliver a theoretical maximum throughput of 21Mbps for downloading and 5.8Mbps per second for uploading when connected to the Next G network. These theoretical speeds are normally only available using Telstra's Turbo 21 modem; Telstra's other USB modems and similar devices from the likes of Optus, Vodafone and 3 are generally capable of 7.2Mbps downloads. It's important to note that these speeds will rarely be seen during normal use — Telstra claims an average speed of 8Mbps for downloads. The speeds will also depend on a number of external factors including your location and hardware.

We performed the majority of our testing with the device at our North Sydney offices, using both a PC and a Mac. The BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway maintained a full HSPA+ connection and performed reliably. We achieved average download speeds of 3Mbps and upload speeds of 1.5Mbps when connected over b/g Wi-Fi, and speeds of 4.1Mbps (downloads) and 2.3Mbps (uploads) when connected over Ethernet. The BigPond Elite Wireless Network Gateway took 7min 49sec to download the 85.8MB iTunes installation package over Wi-Fi and 3min 41sec over an Ethernet connection.

Telstra sells the BigPond Elite Network Gateway for $399 outright. Selected Telstra customers may be entitled to a $200 rebate, in addition to a discount on Telstra access fees for the first 12 months of a 24-month contract plan. There are five plans available, with monthly combined download and upload limits of 400MB ($29.95), 1GB ($39.95), 3GB ($49.95), 6GB ($79.95) and 10GB ($119.95). There are no charges for exceeding monthly quotas, though Telstra will throttle speeds to 64Kbps once the limit is reached.

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Read more on these topics: Networking, Telstra

MICHAEL

1

HI, I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE BIGPOND ELITE NETWORK GATEWAY, WE LIVE IN CENTRAL VICTORIA AND OUR SIGNAL STRENGTH IS LOW SOMETIES DOSNT WORK, I HAVE FITTED AN EXTERNAL ANTENNA HOWEVER SIGNAL STRENGTH DOSENT INCREASE, DOES ANYONE KNOW IF I NEED TO DO SOMETHING IN THE SOFTWARE OR DIENGAGE THE INTERNAL ANTENA IN SOME WAY, KIND OF STUCK ATM WOULD APPRECIATE SOME HELP.

KIND REGARDS VOZZI3030@HOTMAIL.COM

Peter

2

I have this modem, and have had nothing but problems with it from day 1, the signal strength is always on excellent but yet cuts out after every 2 hours or so and it is the slowest Internet connection i have had since dial-up, i would not reccomend for anybody to use this method of Internet

John

3

I have just installed one of these in Queensland, near Brisbane (for the record in QLD 4078) but where the signal strength is also poor. I had used an Ultimate Bigpond for a week's trial here, but you can't use it through a router which I wanted to so as:
1. to connect to two computers and
2. to position the router/modem on the side of the house where I had an antenna. The Bigpond Ultimate was very good and far better than the Optus connection I was comparing it with, and had "used" (unsatisfactorily) for 12 months.

I am yet to put the antenna, as I need the right connector (F to F) on the Elite 21 gateway but so far it is working OK but showing "Low" signal strength all the time - practically. Once it did go up to medium! But for Michael, I would believe that there would be no need to disengage the internal antenna, from my experience with other similar systems. However, you need to make sure that the connection to your external antenna is really making contact. This is difficult with these connectors tucked away in a brass "box" as they are. If you can get some signal, sometimes, without the external antenna, then the external one should give you a significant boost, provided as I said it is actually connected. You should for instance be able to comapre the signal bars on the Bigpond connection window and see a change between having the antenna in palce and not having it on. There is just one small possibility that with the internal plus external antennas, there may be an interference effect which could be removed by changing the position of either antenna relative to the line from them to the Telstra Tower. Just move the Gateway and see if it improves.

Of course these wireless connections are still subject to both power (deternmined by proximity to the nearest tower) and to number of customers using the system at the time so they will always be a bit hairy. However, they are better thansatellite connections which I have considerable, sad, experience with.

I am writing to say that both of your above comments worry me a bit as I have put a lot of time into all this and it seems there may come times when it still falls over!
Just thought I would add my bit to a "forum" on the Elite and will return to see if you have any further comments.

Rachel

4

Telstra Elite Gateway Modem = Complete waste of time and money and for the privilege of being silly enough to try it out I gained over 10hours of time clocked up to Telstra Technical Support, spent over $200on diesel running around to spend a few more $$ hundred dollars on Antennas, patch leads and other crap to try and get it to work.

John

5

Similar to above comments. It is unreliable, when it is working it's OK but sometimes it takes me an hour to get it going if the initial connection fails. Sometimes the stronger the signal the worse the performance.

My main beef is the unreliability - like Murphy's law when you need it to crank up quickly to get something done before you leave the house you can bet your life it plays up.

Dan

6

I have use that modem as well (and it's predecessor).
Both were fairly unreliable and had demonstrable majors issues until the most recent elite firmware (R20).
Even now, I still get what seems like "too many" dropouts (about 1-2 per day)...I live in a location with a great direct line of sight to the tower approx 8 km away and have mostly MED (sometimes HIGH) signal bars...
I do suspect the quality of the hardware is poor when compared with other brands/model that perform much better with Medium or even low signal strength.
I have read that a number of people who transitioned from a constantly unreliable/slow connection to a reliable and fast connection by adding a homemade external YAGI antenna - (Google: vk4ion YAGI) I'm def' going to try that next.

sean

7

As above this modem is very unreliable, been on the phone for two weeks trying to get it sorted out and today i had my old maxon modem registered as it gets 4 bars of service where the elite was getting one to two bars and never went past low signal. i had nothing but trouble, pages did not open, did an upgrade of firmware which let me choose between internal and external antennas, bigpond told me today the elite works worse then the bigpond home network gateway, so i am back with decent internet until my new old model modem comes, the hole point of this process is to get wi-fi so i dont need the computer on to get online with my xbox. fingers crossed its better.

Jim

8

I can only agree with all the above comments - an unreliable ineffective modem. Not only do I get drop outs (more than 1-2 per day) but I have to keep reinstalling the software when the display lights on the modem flash on and off in a repeating sequence. BTW I am on my second modem and it is worse than the one it replaced.

I have line of sight to the tower and have full signal on my phone.

Nigel

9

I have this modem that I got to replace a Maxon in praise of internal wireless connectivity. It drops out often and is very slow, despite an external antenna and the thing claiming 5 bars of signal strength. I have likewise upgraded the firmware ( lifting it from ~ 30 to 70 kbps, WOW !!!)and spent hours on the phone to Telstra support.
I really regret what has been an expensive changeover and would not recommend this thing to anyone.
The old Maxon was a lot faster on a lower signal strength.

Dave

10

I'm in Canberra 2614. You can download a (old) Telstra manual for this device, which suggests you have to switch it from internal antena to external if you plug the optional external antena in. However, the firmware on my device does not match the manual in that aspect and has no option for manaul antena selection. I called Telstra and they said that the device uses the strongest signal automatically. I can't see the Telstra tower and I get medium signal strength with and without the external antena. Uplaod and download speed are good, drop outs are occassional but not frequent. Although it has dropped out a few times when on Skype video calls. I network the family's 3 PCs, a Mac via LAN and an ipod (wirelessly) simultaneously through it and its fine so long as all are just downloading web pages and pictures, otherwise I notice a little slowing if 1 or more are downloading larger files like music or movies, but its still a respectable speed then. I take it with me to hotels and it works fine as a mobile web access provided you have a power point. It is much beter than my previous non-telstra USB wireless intenet device that frequently dropped out and was soooooooo slow even on just 1 pc. For general use it seems just as fast as cable at the office.

Leanne

11

Awful. Drops out, signal is dodgey, isn't suitable for rural areas. If you lose the USB key, you can't access the internet. Don't buy, waste of money.

Franz

12

Problems with all the time with Telstra Elite Gateway.

What else is there to buy on the market ??? Please help!

Graeme

13

I have had three Elite towers, the first two being ineffective. However the third one works fine. However, having just purchased a Samsung Galaxy tablet, Telstra tells me that I must now change to a "wi-fi" version. It looks like another 3-4 hrs trying to explain to Telstra service centre ? in Manilla ?

Heather

14

Live in country area, no other choice but to use wireless connection. Had Maxon modem previously, worked well. Then had problems with 3G Telstra service, that they denied & then said I had to replace the Maxon with Elite Network Gateway. The Elite Network Gateway did not work. It could only pick up very low signal & we had no internet service for 3 weeks for our business. Took many many hours on phone to Telstra Tech Support (in Phillipines) eventually made complaint to Telcommunications Ombudsman. Got Telstra External Antenna eventually, had to install on the roof and finally it worked. Now advised there is an identified risk to internet security but the Telstra website instructions for new firmware upgrade are inadequate, ambiguous and confusing to follow.

Trevor

15

I've had a guts full of my gateway elite modem and Telstra. Originally It took several attempts to install, whilst on the phone to Tech support. The DNS continually was resetting for some reason? Then I finally get it running as good as possible (highest download speeds reached was just under 400Kbps. Wow!) this is with an external booster antenna mounted on the roof. Then they send out a letter to say you need to upgrade due to security risks. I do that, now I'm back to square one. Extremely slow speeds, thats when it works. So if you have one, don't upgrade the firmware coz your just going to end up on the phone to them for hours as I have. And I've had better success using my iPhone as a personal hotspot for my PC than with the gateway elite.

Rob

16

ditto, ditto, ditto... why did I ever think Telstra was going to be a good bet? This modem (and its 3 predecessors which didn't work at all) is a disaster.

Jordan

17

To anyone frustrated over the lack of 3G signal strength, even external antennas are added, please note that the external antenna connections are for increasing the signal strength and range of the Wi-Fi network of which your device connects to. Not the 3G signal that the device uses to connect to the table. So basically, all the additional antenna was doing with increasing the distance of which your Wi-Fi connection can go (e.g, if I did this, my neighbours would be able to see my network and even access it if they have the password.)

Very annoying, I know. As it is, I'm stuck with the 'BigPond Ultimate Wi-Fi Hotspot', not a good device, believe me!

STEVEN GEORGE

18

I have had my Elite Gateway Modem for three years now,its great,never had any problems,i don't use any external aerials or such, and i run 2 computers and a printer and my wifes 8.9 Kindle Fire off the unit.I live in the country towards Cape Jervois in Sth Aussie and TELSTRA is the only company that can give me the internet where i live.The plans are good,i have 8gb for $40 a month,and i have heard that there will be more plans coming soon at cheaper rates.Not sure if there is a use by date for these Modems,that is something i will have to ask TELSTRA.
Cheers.
STEVE.G.

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craig

0.0

1

Pros
nothing
Cons
telstra support, price, bad experience, lack of respect for consumers, douche bag
• • •

nothing but ongoing problems with telstra and their inferior products, service and attitude! Over 15 months of ongoing issues with the tompson crapway (gateway), unit replaced twice. Out of frustration we paid for this bloody thing and its even worse!!!! We go days withiut service, constantly waiting fir level 3 tech to call back, gggrrrrrrr bloody telstra. Give me my money back you greedy short sighted group of idiots!!!!!!! (ps, im currently using my crazy john phone for internet, so very sad) i need a nap. Please dont waste ur time or money, life is too short and too important.

r.meade

0.5

2

Pros
not much to talk about
Cons
slow ,starts and stops
• • •

had three modems from telstra ,no more ,cant get wifi for internet radio with the bigpond card

Warren

0.0

3

Pros
Bananas
Cons
alcohol
• • •

We live in remote NT and are on our third elite replacement. This modem is a heap of rubbish and we are trying (hence the word trying) to get our money back.

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